Everyday Judaism · Rabbi Aryeh Wolbe

Unlock the sacred power of your words and journey with us into the spiritual heart of Judaism's teachings on speech. This episode weaves a tapestry of timeless wisdom, as we explore the profound impact that words can have on our spiritual connection and the world around us. The Talmud (Sotah 42a) serves as our guide, illuminating the pitfalls of negative speech such as slander and flattery, and revealing how they sever our ties with the divine.

Throughout this episode, we share personal reflections and scriptural insights that underscore the significance of language in our everyday lives. We delve into the spiritual essence of the Hebrew alphabet, focusing on how the letters "hay" and "vav" embody the divine attributes of forgiveness and truth. By understanding these concepts, we come to appreciate the role of speech in nurturing our bond with the Creator and the necessity of honesty in our interactions. The conversation also touches upon mitzvot ase and mitzvot lo ta'ase, highlighting how our words can either draw us closer to or push us further from the divine presence.

Concluding on an uplifting note, the episode stresses the importance of kindness, the transformative power of judging others favorably, and the profound influence our speech can have in shaping a purposeful existence. We reflect on tales from the Torah and wisdom from King David, emphasizing that positive narratives and ethical communication are vital Jewish imperatives. By the end of our journey together, you'll be inspired to harness the transformative power of your words and to be ever receptive to the subtle divine messages that guide our lives.

The Everyday Judaism Podcast by Rabbi Aryeh Wolbe is dedicated to learning, understanding and appreciating the greatness of Jewish heritage and the Torah through the simplified, concise study of Halacha, Jewish Law, thereby enhancing our understanding of how Hashem wants us to live our daily lives in a Jewish way.

Download & Print the Everyday Judaism Halacha Notes: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1RL-PideM42B_LFn6pbrk8MMU5-zqlLG5?usp=sharing

Recorded in the TORCH Centre - Studio B to a live audience on May 23, 2023, in Houston, Texas.
Released as Podcast on February 8, 2024
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What is Everyday Judaism · Rabbi Aryeh Wolbe?

The Everyday Judaism Podcast (formerly Living Jewishly Podcast) is dedicated to learning and understanding the laws and basic how-to of daily Jewish living. Presented by Rabbi Aryeh Wolbe in a simple and concise manner, easy for anyone to understand and connect.
This Podcast Series is Generously Underwritten by Marshall & Doreen Lerner.

00:01 - Intro (Announcement)
You're listening to Rabbi Aryeh Wolbe, director of TORCH, The Torah Outreach Resource Center of Houston. This is the Jewish Inspiration Podcast.

00:12 - Rabbi Aryeh Wolbe (Host)
All right, welcome back everybody to the Jewish Inspiration Podcast. We are in middle of learning about the laws of proper speech. It is so important to ensure that every word that comes out of our mouth is appropriate. We shouldn't be talking about other people. We shouldn't be, because usually what happens when we talk about other people? We end up saying something that perhaps is compromising or negative about the other person.

So there's an amazing piece of Talmud in Traktat Sotav 42a. Rabbi Yirmiyya Baraba said Arba Kitos ein Mikhabulos Pneeshcheno. There are four classes of sinners that do not merit to receive the divine presence. Who are those four categories of people? Kass Leitsanim, those who are the class of scoffers. Kass Hanafim. Class of flatterers. Vekas Shkarem, the class of liars. Vekas Mesapre, lashonhara. And the fourth one is the class of those who speak Lashonhara, and Rabbi Yirmiyya now brings scriptural support for each of these. Now we have to understand that any time.

Just a reminder for those of you who are frequenting on our Thinking Talmud podcast what's the purpose of our class On Friday afternoons where we study Talmud? Exactly what he is doing right now, rabbi Yirmiyya, where he's making a bold statement. You have to back it up. In Judaism, everything needs to be sourced. You cannot teach a word of Torah because it feels good, because it sounds right. It's got to be sourced. Everything is about the truth. So Rabbi Yirmiyya now is going to bring his source. Kass Leitsanim. The class of scoffers do not merit to receive the divine presence D'chsev. Because it says in Hosea, he withdrew his hand from scoffers referring to the Almighty Ma shach yadah kodeshpor humeh yos es lotzitsim, that the words he withdrew his hand refers to the Holy One, the Almighty who withdraws from association with scoffers. Hashem doesn't want to have anything to do with those who mock others.

Late night shows, for example. They have no right to pick a victim and neuter them because they have to sell tickets and they have to have ratings of mockery and laughing at other people. Kaschanofim, the class of flatterers. What's the backup for that? He says D'chsev keeloh, lefonov, chanof yavoi. In Job it says for before him, no flatterer shall come. That's referring to the Almighty, that no flatterer should come.

What is a flatterer? So we think of flattery as someone who flatters someone. Oh, you have such a nice dress, you have such a nice shirt, and they're flattering them. What it really means is what the Talmud refers to it, as is echad bepeve, echad beleef, someone who really, in their heart, feels one way but with their mouth thinks another way. Meaning I hate this person so much, but I'm going to smile to them and behind their back, I'm going to do everything disgusting I can to make it clear that I don't like that person and I'm going to fake it to them. That's or, by the way, if you have someone that you feel that if you lie to them, you will benefit from them People who can say negative things about a donor, for example, someone who donates to an organization, and they can say nasty things about them. God forbid. But you know what? I'll swallow it to get their donation. It's not appropriate. I've seen this happen in synagogues, where synagogues really don't like certain personalities, but they'll tolerate them for their money, and that's a type a form of flattery that Tatoros says is not being truthful.

The third category is kash shkarem, the class of liars that do not merit to receive the divine presence. T'chsiv dover shkarem, loyikon le neged aenei, someone who tells lies, shall not be established before my eyes. Referring again to the eyes of Hashem, that one who is speaking falsehood cannot be in the presence of Hashem. And then the final one, the one that relates to us here, is kash misapri lashonar. The class of those who speak lashonara does not merit to receive the divine presence because it says in Psalms, chapter 5, verse 5, for you are not a God who desires wickedness. Evil cannot abide with you. God doesn't want anything to do with someone who speaks slander, who talks negatively about other people. Rashi explains the word yagurcha, yagurchara thus loyogurimchara Evil cannot abide together with you, hashem. And with regards to those who speak lashonara, it is written in the passage ki aene befi hu-nachona, for there is no sincerity in their lips. The verse that can thus be paraphrased you, hashem, are righteous. Therefore, evil cannot dwell in your abode. So I want to share with you something which is not written here in the notes, but it's something we've talked about a while back.

If you take the name of Hashem, yud and hay and vav and hay, it's the name of Hashem, and there are 72 different forms of the names of Hashem, and our sages tell us that the world was created with the combination of the letters of God's name. So the name of Hashem is very powerful and we have to understand that when you have these four letters of Hashem's name, they all represent something. For example, what is the yud? The yud is the first letter of God's name and the yud is also the smallest letter in the alif bet. Why? Because yud is the only letter that cannot be split in half. You take an alif, for example. You can just picture the letter alif in your mind. The alif has three letters. It has a yud on top, it has a vav diagonally across and a yud on the bottom. Yud, yud and a vav in the middle. That is, the yud is ten numerology with the Hebrew letters and vav is six. So yud, yud, it's twenty-six. Twenty-six is the name of Hashem. So just in the letter alif you have the name of Hashem. But that's just an example of how you can take one letter, the letter alif, and it becomes three different letters. It also tells us the letter alif comes from the word aluf, which means master. And if you look at the yud, that's on the right side of the alif, it has a finger pointing up. That's the way it's written. You look in any Torah, it's telling us aluf, there's a master of the universe. It's pointing up saying Hashem is the master of the universe. So what is the? What do you do with the letter vav? Vav can be split in half. It can make two yuds, but yud cannot be split in half. Yud is just one. Which teaches us Hashem is one.

When we say Shema Israel, hashem alakaynu, hashem is one, it's referring that Hashem is indivisible. Hashem cannot be split into pieces, into parts. Hashem has no partners. Hashem is one and only one. Echad, yachidum, yuchad, one and only one. What is someone who's a flatterer? They're two-faced. They're two-faced. They can't reside where God is, because God is all about one oneness. We say Hashem elokaychem emet. God is truth.

Hashem created the world with a hay. It says behi baram this is in Genesis Behe braam. Hashem created the world with a hay. If you imagine again in your mind how the letter hay looks, there's this hollow space in the middle. You have like a dollad on the side and then you have a little yud right and then you have this space in the middle, say. It just tells us that God created the world with a letter hay.

Hay means that everything that God, the manufacturer of this world, created, he created for a purpose. Why the letter hay? Say it just tells us, because God created, embedded into creation, forgiveness, and if someone falls into that abyss, they can always come back and start over again. They fall, they can come back, and that's the cycle of life that God embedded into creation, but that Hashem created everything we recently said in a previous podcast, there is nothing that Hashem created that is extra. You open up the hood of a car and you see, oh, there's just this extra pipe, this extra wire. Let's just cut it out. Something's not going to work right. The same thing is with every creation. Every creation is there for a reason. Hashem thought that the world cannot exist without Mark today and therefore Mark is going to be here today, and someone who marks Mark is saying he's worthless, and therefore it's a contradiction to Hashem's letter hay that creates everything for a purpose.

The letter vav is the letter of connection. The only way for something to exist is with truth. Falsehood has existence, but falsehood doesn't last forever. It'll eventually fall. If we look at the letters of Emmet, which is truth, all the letters the aleph, the mem and the taf all have two legs. But if you look at the letters that comprise the word shekhar, which is falsehood lies, they all have one leg. The shin comes to a point, the reish has one leg and the kuf comes to a point as well, because one leg will eventually fall. You can stand a little bit on one leg, but eventually you'll lose your balance. You can't stand forever on one leg.

What the letter Vav is telling us is that God sustains this world. The only way to sustain this world is with truth. Like we mentioned previously, hashem, elokechem, emet, hashem, our God, is all about truth. It's all about truth, and that kicks out the group of those who speak falsehood, because they can't exist in God's world. And then we have the fourth letter of Hashem's name is the letter Hei, the second Hei in the Yud, the Hei and the Vav and now the second Hei. The second Hei is that Hashem recreates the world constantly. Hashem recreates the world constantly and that recreation means that there's a purpose.

When someone speaks to Hashem, they're saying that this person has no purpose, they're ridiculing the person's worth. We don't need him, he's just extra, or we don't value him, which is why we talk negatively about them. And our sages tell us on a deeper level that what someone is doing when he's one of these classes of categories of people, what they're doing is they themselves are contradicting God and therefore they're pushing away God's presence. It's very important for us to know that we all have a relationship with God that must be developed. We develop it through prayer, we develop it through study, through Torah study, and we need to find a way to bring Godliness into our lives. And when we do certain things, what we're doing is we're pushing God away.

We mentioned this morning that mitzvot ase, the performative, mitzvot in the Torah, which there are 248 of them in the Torah, there are tools to bring us closer to God. Mitzvot lot ase prohibitions in the Torah, which there are 365 of them, are to protect us from falling and distancing ourselves from God. The mitzvot ase, the performative is to bring us closer to God and the prohibitions is to protect us from falling and distancing ourselves from Hashem. And, by the way, they correspond to the limbs of our body, they correspond to the sinews of our body. We need to realize that Hashem wants a closeness with us. Hashem doesn't need our prayers, hashem loves our prayers. Hashem doesn't need our mitzvot, he loves our mitzvot, because what Hashem wants more than anything is a relationship with His creations. Hashem longs, yearns for that closeness with us. We in turn. We'll see that.

King David, what did King David say? Kirvass, alokim litov, the closeness with Hashem is what I yearn for, is what I want. All I want is being close to God. That's it I want. Very interesting, that we say Hashem roi lo achsar In the verse in Psalms where King David says God is my shepherd. I will not be missing out, hashem will take care of me.

I don't know if I said this recently, but I walked into my kitchen one morning and I try to give my wife a little break. So I say you just go to sleep, I'll take care of the kids, I'll get them out, I'll prepare the lunches, the snacks, give them breakfast and get them off to school. So I usually do a couple of runs to school because they have the older kids. They need to be there at a certain time, then the younger ones need to be at a different time. So we have our little baby, our little eight month old, and I sit her in her high chair and I give her her little puffs that she eats and she loves them. So I put her in, I give her her puffs, I get the first car, pull into the car, I run them to school, come back.

The second shift is almost ready, they're almost finished their breakfast and I walk into the kitchen and I see my little baby daughter, eight months old. Her tray is empty. She finished her entire tray and she's the happiest little thing ever. But she has no more. She has no more little puffs on her tray and she's not concerned. She doesn't have a panic attack. No anxiety, no worry. You know why? Because, for all she knows, hashem is my shepherd and I won't be lacking anything. Who's her Hashem at this moment? Her parents. She knows that I'm coming home and I'm going to be right back there putting those more puffs on her tray.

And it dawned on me. How many times did we get worried? How am I going to pay rent next month? How am I going to pay my mortgage? I have that insurance bill coming. It's due. What am I going to do? Guess what? We need to be like that little eight month old child who doesn't have a cure in the world because she knows her father's coming and he's going to take care of it. Hashem is our father, who's exactly the same position where he's going to take care of us. He's not in the same position because he's capable of doing anything in the world. I just have a few puffs that I can put on her tray. Hashem can do anything. How much more? So we should feel that closeness with Hashem. We should feel that confidence. Hashem is right there to take care of us.

Now, going back to what we're talking about, speaking using the power to communicate in a proper way. The Al-Akhir now continues In Sanhedrin call Laitzenousso Asira. All mockery is forbidden, barmi, laitzenousso d'Avodah Sallilim, except for mockery of idol worship. D'ixiv as it says, and he brings a verse, and it was at noontime. Eliyau ridiculed the prophets of Baal. That type of mockery is permitted. So we see that laughing at other people is not a good thing.

I don't know who gives newspapers, tv hosts, late night comedy hosts, who gives them the right to laugh at other people. They have all of these things that you have to sign a waiver. If someone gets you on television, you have to sign a waiver that you agree and that you are okay with being present on television. Usually they do that when they do these gacha videos. What are those videos called Candid cameras? Eventually you need to sign that you actually agree. Why? Because it could be demeaning, it could be hurtful, but the truth is that any time we talk about someone, we should have them sign a waiver and say you know, I spoke about you. I want to make sure that you're okay, that I spoke. What did you say about me? That wouldn't work too well. That wouldn't work too well and it's really sad that this is the reality. The reality of the world is that we talk and talk and talk, and it's hurtful. It's hurtful when you talk about other people.

The al-Akhas that we learned last week says that the one who accepts the la-shonahara is just as bad, if not worse, than the person who speaks the la-shonahara. Why? Because your silence encourages them to continue to speak. So there is an old torch video that you can find online someplace on YouTube.

Why did God create earlobes? There's no medical reason for earlobes except to be there available for earrings. There's really no reason for earlobes, except our commentaries say that Hashem created earlobes so that we can put them into our ear when someone speaks la-shonahara and we can close our ears so that we don't hear it. That's how important it is. Now.

We also mentioned last week that we have two eyes, we have two ears, we have two nostrils and one mouth, and not only that is that none of those organs have protectors. If someone makes a sound, I'll hear it, even if I didn't want to hear it. If someone does a dance right here, I'll see it, even if I really didn't want to. I can look away, but I saw it. There's no protector to the eyes in that sense, unless we want to close it or look away. Same thing with our nose. If there is a scent, it's in a aroma of coffee, delicious coffee, so then that scent is inevitable.

Talking, our mouth has two protectors it has the teeth and the lips, two fences that close the mouth from speaking, and the tongue is the only organ that sits there that needs to be picked up to become useful. It's an amazing thing, it's not a simple thing, that we talk. We have extra protective measures and we only have one mouth. We're supposed to talk half of what we listen you can hear. Listen, open your ears, two ears. We should be listening double what we speak. Okay Now, hanokai Michaviro.

One who takes revenge of his fellow over below Sasseh violates a negative commandment in the Torah. What is a negative commandment? We said distances us from the Almighty Shenemar, as the verse states lo seekom ye shall not take revenge. This is in Leviticus 19, 18. We learned this in our partial review podcast. Those of you who are interested, you can go listen. It's in parashas kadochim. I believe you can find it on the interwebs Bekaitzad hianikima. What is taking revenge? The Torah forbids. Amr lechaviro.

One says to his friend hash ileni kardumcha, can you please lend me your axe? Amr lo eni mashilcha. He says I'm sorry, I'm not lending it to you. Lamachor haiachaviro, tsarich lishol. The next day, his fellow, the one who said no, comes to him and needs to borrow a different item from him. Amr lochaviro. Hash ileni kardumcha. He says to him lend me your axe. Amr lo eni mashilcha. Kamosha ato lo hishaltani ka shalti nimcha, just like you didn't lend it to me, I'm not lending it to you. Haresin nokemva ovrabilav.

Such a person is someone who's taking revenge with his refusal to lend and he has violated a negative commandment. That means you didn't do it to me, you didn't lend it to me, so I'm not going to lend it to you. Now there's another prohibition of the Torah which is very interesting. Torah says you shouldn't have revenge and it says lo, titor, you should not be a grudge. Allah is going to talk about it in a minute. You know what it means, mark, not to be a grudge. So let me tell you. Let me tell you. So I come to you and I say Mark, can I borrow your car? You're like no, okay. The next day you come to me and you say oh, rabbi, can I borrow your car? No, you didn't lend me your car yesterday. I'm not lending you my car today. That's revenge. You know what a grudge is.

A grudge is. When you come to me and you ask and you say Rabbi, can I borrow your car? I'm going to say you know, mark, I asked you yesterday if you would lend me your car. You said no, I'm not going to be like you here you can borrow my car because I'm not like you. That's holding a grudge.

Torah says it's forbidden to do that. You know why? Because that hurts. You know what the Torah tells us about hurting another person. Don't do it.

The Torah says don't hurt a fellow human being, particularly not with your words. We mentioned last week lo sonu ishes amisechu. You're not allowed to cause pain. You're not allowed to inflict pain upon another human being, any type of pain. Elah kishiyavolo lishol.

Rather, the proper way to respond when the second person comes to borrow an item, yitin relayvsholim, give it wholeheartedly. Reloyygmolo kashygmolo, and don't treat him like he treated you. Eloroylolo udam. Rather, it is proper for a person, lios mavir al-midosef al-kol divreolam, to relinquish his measure of retribution with regard to anything related to this temporal world. Just let go. You don't always have to be in a position of I'm in control and I'm going to dominate here, because I'm going to teach you a lesson. There's a way the Torah wants us to live which is higher.

The Torah says don't take revenge. Someone asked you do the right thing, so it hurts you that. They said no, grow up. It's fine. They weren't able to. You know, I have a rule with my wife that we together.

You know, many times you'll hear people say oh, you need a favor for them, they owe me a big favor. What does that mean? They owe you a big favor. We're counting favors here. I did them a kind deed. Now they owe me back a kind deed. That's not a kind deed. If your kind deed has a receipt with it, that now I'm going to claim my receipt for a favor in return, that's not a kind deed.

There's a book that someone recommended I read. I'm not going to mention the name of the book, but it's about networking and building up a rapport with people and it's a whole thing. And I didn't like the book because everything about that book is you scratch my back, I'll scratch your back and it's all a favor in return. That's not how we do kindness. We do kindness. I'll give you a thousand times and I don't want one in return. And don't do me a favor in return because I did you a favor, so you owe me, you don't owe me. I'll give you an example.

Many times with children in school, so you're running late at the doctor's office, you call a friend and you say do you mind when you pick up your kid from school. Can you pick up my child as well? And you know, bring home my child, I'll pick them up. I'll be there in 20 minutes. I just, you know, I don't want them to be, you know, stuck on a carpool line. Okay, so many times it's tempting Someone call you and ask you for that favor.

Once, twice, three times, and then we're in a situation. I remember this happened to us and my wife's like you know what they. I picked up their kid a couple of times. I can call them and ask them. I said no, I don't want that. I don't want a favor, because we did a favor, tit for tat. You know, I did you a favor, now you do me a favor. No, I'll do a thousand favors and I don't want one in return.

That's not why we do acts of kindness to build, to build credit. It's not. We're not politicians here, we're human beings. We're servants of Hashem. We don't do it for the purpose of getting something in return. That's not pure kindness. Now, a person can have pure intentions and a person can do it for the right reason and if he needs a favor in return, needs a favor in return. But it's not because of that. It should not be linked. I threw out my receipts. It's zero, zero. And I do you another favor and it's still zero, zero. There's no score. You don't owe me anything in return and I don't want you to do it, because I did it for you.

Yeetain, belive Shalom with a wholeheartedness. A person should give it, give it. Give it even though this person may have harmed you or not given it to you when you wanted it. Plus, you never know what someone else is going through. You never know what someone is really experiencing. We think like oh, what's the big deal? You have money to lend me, Right? Why can't you lend me money? Oh, he just, he just doesn't want, right. People come up with this whole story. I've heard so many people. I'm a rabbi. I hear all the stories. People come to me all the time with these big, big theories of why this person wasn't helpful to them and why that person wasn't this, and that they have all these stories and all these theories. Maybe they just can't.

There's a story in the Talmud that says that there was one of the great sages had a servant that worked for him for many years and the servant was about to finish his career with this sage. And the servant says okay, I'm about to go it was right before Rosh Hashanah and I'm going back to my family. Is it possible for you to maybe pay me for my services? The sage says I'm sorry, but I don't have any money. He says okay, but what's about all of the fields? You have animals. I don't have any anymore. Guys like what? Right, that's what we would think, right? He says what's about the fruits? You have so many fruits on the trees. You have so much. He says what's about linen? Pillows, blankets? I can sell them, I can make the money. I don't have them anymore. It's about your animals Nothing. So the guy goes on his way. Guys go, go on his way.

A few weeks later, the sage comes to this servant's house with chariots filled with goods and he goes over to him and he says to him when I told you that I didn't have any more money, what did you think? He says well, we learned that we're supposed to judge favorably. So I figured you probably had invested it and you didn't have any liquid cash. You didn't have any more money. You didn't have any money to pay me. He says that's right. He says when I told you that I didn't have fields and I didn't have any more animals. He says I figured you must have given him as a gift to the temple. He says that's correct. That's exactly what happened, he says, and what happened when I said this, and that he gives another theory of positive judgment on this sage. The sage said indeed, everything you judged me favorably was actually true. He says here's your money and here's the reward for the positive judgment that you bestowed upon me.

So I wanted to learn something from this. I had once an experience I think I mentioned this a while back, a long time ago when I was learning this exact topic of judging people favorably. You remember that story? So I was 15 years old, 16 years old, I was in Yeshiva and we were learning this topic judging every person favorably. You know what? You've got to just come up with a story, just like this guy. He came up with some Baba Mesa and he that's it. This is my story and I'm sticking with it.

So I was once in synagogue on Friday night and they're singing Luchadod and I was standing over there on the side with my sitter on the shelf and walking back and forth and singing and humming with the congregation and I come back to my spot where I had my sitter on the shelf and someone walked off with my sitter, like what? That's a little odd. So I pull out a khumish. It was packed, the shoe was packed. I pull out a khumish so I can look over review the parasha, preparing for the parasha review podcast, back 30 years earlier and perhaps and I put it down and I'm humming again with the congregation and we're singing Luchadod and I turn around for a second and my khumish is gone.

I'm like what is going on over here? I see the guy who walked off with my sitter and the guy who walked off with my khumish and I'm like you know what? I'm just going to make up a story. Maybe the story is right, maybe not. I'm just going to stick with it. I said you know what? He's probably so confused. His wife just had a baby two minutes before Shabas. He just got back. He's all over the place. You know, he doesn't even know where he's at and that's why he's just confused and he took my sitter big deal. That's my story and I'm sticking with it. Sure enough, after Da Vinay the guy goes to the Ghabai of the Shul and he whispers something in his ear and the Ghabai gives a big bang on the beam and he says mazal tov, mazal tov. Just before Shabas his wife had a baby boy and tonight he'll be hosting a Shalom Zacher, which is the custom at the first Shabbas of a baby boy. You have a special party Friday night and he's going to be hosting something in his house and no wonder he didn't know what day of the week it was. He didn't know where he was. You know, he's just all over the place and that's why he, you know.

So I learned from that story and many others since that you make up a story, hashem will succeed your way, that sometimes that true, that story will actually be true and you'll merit to see. You know what. Just put a positive spin. You never know. As crazy as it may be, I had this recently. I don't remember what the story was, but I had one of the students in this class called me and said you know, we spoke about judging people favorably and yada, yada. But you know, come on, give me a break, let me tell you the story and you tell me if it's possible to even judge this person favorably. I said you know, let's try, let's try to figure it out together. He told me the story and it was really. It was a difficult one. It wasn't a simple one, I said. But maybe there's something we don't know of the story. Maybe the reason he acted like that was because, you know, and we threw out some weird scenario and it turned out to be true, and we were shocked in amazement that the story we made up was actually true, as crazy as it could be.

The idea here, behind all of this, is that nobody is really evil and no one is wicked and no one is intending to harm you, and if someone is doing something that seems to be so terrible, there needs to be another part of the story that you don't know. I know all of you here are the nicest people, the most incredible people, the most gracious, kind people. Would anybody be mean and nasty just for the sake of being mean and nasty? No, there must be something going on. Oh, his wife yelled at him. He's concerned about his whatever. He has something on his mind. You never know what could be. You never know what could be.

It's therefore very, very important for us to always keep it on the forefront of our mind Judge every person favorably. Now, why am I mentioning judging favorably when we're talking about LaShonara, because the only reason we speak LaShonara is because we're thinking the worst. We're thinking the worst of someone. If we don't think the worst and we think the positive about every person, we'll have nothing negative to say. So Hashem should bless us that we should succeed in that mission.

Amen, eloh roiler, la'adam liios maver amidosa val kol divre ha'olam She'etsah mevinim ha'kol divre ha'ol vahavay. For to those who really understand this world, everything in this world is vanity and worthless. Ve'enun kaday lin koma lam, and it is not worthwhile taking advantage for it. Hechayin amar david amalach. And so said King David. May peace be upon him.

In Psalms, chapter 7, verse 5, it says im gamalti sholmi roh vahalco. Let me be punished if I have ever repaid with evil those who treated me badly, I who rescued my tormentors gratuitously. So we see that King David wasn't always treated nicely. He still never took revenge and never let evil, temptation or desire get the best of him. Of course we know that the Torah says that you're not allowed to curse another person. Now the halacha number 8 over here says im tirze liin nakayme ayvecha.

If you wish to take proper revenge of your enemies tozif, ma'olos, tovos you should increase your good qualities and conduct yourself in a straightforward fashion Beze me'mele tinkomisonecha. In this way, your revenge of your enemies will take place by itself. You know the best way to take revenge Not by hurting them. You will never grow by knocking someone else down. You want to grow, you want to be bigger than them. Make yourself bigger. You be bigger.

Work on your good character traits. Work on your good Mido's. Ki hu yitztar al Mido'secho, for your elevated qualities will cause your enemy distress. V'yisabel besham'o shimcha hatov, and he will mourn when he hears of your good reputation. V'yisabel besham'o shimcha hatov. Aval imtah samasim mechorim.

However, if you take revenge by perpetrating ugly deeds, oz yismach son'ach'o al klon'ch'o v'charposh'o, then your enemy will rejoice over your degradation and your disgrace, because now you're in the mud with him, You're slinging mud with him, v'hinehu misnakim bech'o, and he is thus taking revenge upon you. So what we see here is that the only way to grow is not by knocking another person down. You want to grow. Be bigger, be better, be different by being better.

There is there are so many examples we can give of people who were cheated out of their business, were cheated out of their inheritance, who were cheated out of their jobs and you can get into the mud and you can sling mud at them and you can call them names and you can go around town and say you know, this person is this and this person is that. Or you can do something different Close your mouth, put your head down and just become the best person you can become, and then you know what they have on you. They have nothing on you. You just raise up your head and become greater, and that's what the halacha tells us to do. The halacha says if you're smart, you just become a better person. That is the greatest revenge you can possibly take, because the idea at that point is that you don't really care about the revenge. You care about your own personal growth, and that's the key. The final halacha says call Hanotelah echad misr'al.

Anyone who beers a grudge towards any Jew violates a negative commandment. As the Torah tells us, you should not beer a grudge against the members of your people, and that's why it's at Hanotelah what is the bearing a grudge that the Torah forbade? Ruvane sh'amalah shimon. Some time later, shimon comes to borrow an item from Ruvane, but I'm going to let Ruvane and Ruvane say to him hey, lachar I ranim ashi'ilchah ve'eni kemoschal loa shalim lachakam asechah. Here it is. I will lend it to you Because I'm not like you who would not lend it to me. I will not pay you back in accord with your actions. I'm not going to take revenge. I'm going to be better than you and I'm going to give you even though you didn't lend it to me. That's the example we gave earlier Ha'uzeh kazeh over luloh sitar.

One who does this violates the prohibition of the Torah. You shall not beer a grudge, elohimchah hadavar melebo. Rather than beer a grudge against one's fellow, it is proper for him to erase the matter from his heart and not to remember it at all. Erase it. It doesn't exist, ve'zoh hi hadayah anachon and this is the proper character trait Shef sheshi iskayim ba'o yoshchuh v'oritz that can facilitate the existence of human society, umasom, umatonom shal bne'odom ze imze and the interpersonal relationships of people.

You want to know what's going to get this world to be a better place? The whole world talks about t'ikon olam repairing the world. You know what really repairs the world? Not fighting. Fighting doesn't do it. Oh, I'm going to beat them. I'm going to debate them. Never works. No one ever want to debate Ever. No one ever want to debate. It's a fight. You know what wins. Just be better, act.

In a kind of way, the Torah tells us how to act. It's an amazing thing, because you think the Torah would be all about rules of do this, do that in very specific areas of business. It tells us how to conduct ourselves in marriage, in parenting. Torah tells us not to be jealous in the Big Ten, in the Big Ten Commandments. It tells us not to murder. Okay, these are obvious things. Mostly, we learned that. We'll talk about that more at a different time.

But the Torah here tells us don't bear a grudge, don't take revenge and don't bear a grudge. These are things that a person is trying to feel, something that they're not. You're trying to be over another person, you're trying to be higher than another person. That's not the appropriate way for us to conduct ourselves. Torah reminds us time and again to remember that we aren't the God. Hashem is the God Creator of Heaven and Earth, and we need to subject ourselves to Hashem and only to Hashem. And any time we want to feel superior to another person, what we are in essence doing is saying Hashem, you move aside. I need to step in now and I need to play God here because I am in charge. It's a huge mistake. It's a huge mistake. That's why the Torah tells us Lo si kom, lo si tor. Do not take revenge and do not bear a grudge, because these are things that will distance you from Hashem.

Hashem and an arrogant person cannot reside in one place. Ani vehu enon enenu yuholum lodu bremokom achad. Hashem hates the arrogant. Someone who has the feeling of superiority over another person is arrogant. That's why they want to bear a grudge, that's why they want to take revenge, but if they feel, hey, hashem, you gave me an opportunity to do a mitzvah, and they see it only like that, that's the most important thing. So there's a lot of tit for tat going on in the world today. There's a lot of people trying to maneuver and get themselves into a position of superiority over other people Say just tell us. The Torah tells us don't go there, just be gracious, just be kind, be God-fearing, ani Hashem. The verse ends Ani Hashem, I am Hashem, reminding us that Hashem knows, hashem rewards.

I want to tell you that when I was in my first non-profit volunteering job, I was 17 years old. I was in the former Soviet Union, and my mentor at the time told me and we were talking about. It's a difficult job. You are up till 3, 4, 5 in the morning. You are back up at 6 o'clock in the morning. You are working 24 hours a day and you are running after people and doing this and doing that and trying to get everyone together and you are in a different language, you are speaking in a different language, right? So that's itself a difficult enough task.

And I said to him, I said does anybody say thank you? It's right, it's right. So he says to me bring me a sitter. I want to read you this that we say every Shabbos, in our prayer Right before Mus'af, we say a very, very special prayer. We say and all who are involved in the needs of the community with integrity, may the Holy One bless it as he pay their reward and remove from them every affliction, heal their entire body and forgive their every iniquity and send blessing and success to all their handiwork, along with all Israel, their brethren. And let us say Amen.

Okay, see, he says to me I don't understand, this doesn't make any sense. He says and all who are involved in the needs of the community with integrity, may Hashem repay them. What do you mean the community should recognize. The community should see. We should have a plaque on the wall that says oh, in honor of Lauren, who is such a great volunteer for his congregation. He's a member on the board and he's he donates and he's committed and he gives of his time.

So why does it have to be Hashem? Why is Hashem the one who's going to pay the reward? He says because only Hashem knows how much work you put in. Only Hashem knows the dedication, the commitment, the thought, the tears, the sweat that goes into your hard work. You know Hashem pays it back. We don't need to do it for other people to recognize. It was only one being that we need to be concerned about, and that's the Almighty. Your neighbors are never going to realize, they're never going to appreciate everything you do. They are never going to acknowledge the extent of your greatness, of your volunteer ship, of your commitment and dedication for the community. People should recognize, people should acknowledge what's the big deal? They can't say thank you, marian, for everything you've done, guess what? Everybody knows the extent of your commitment, except for Hashem. So when we're trying to be a little guy, trying to clamor for a little bit more recognition, I'm going to take revenge so that you know who's boss. What are we doing? We're being little people. We can be so great and so big. We can be so much closer to God. Be God-like and realize that Hashem sees everything. Hashem smiles.

I recently had a very interesting situation. There was a program that my wife and I worked very, very hard to establish and there were some changes that were needed in that program and there were people who said they want to get involved in helping with that specific project and I said no problem, you have full autonomy to do whatever you need to do, but on one condition that it stays under the same umbrella. Otherwise, you have full autonomy, it stays under the same umbrella. We can keep a unity. And, sure enough, a couple of months go by and what's the agreement? Keep the unity, right. Yes, so that's not going to happen. You know they come and they say thank you very much, but we decided we're going to take your project and we're going to make it our own. Now we're going to do something else with it, okay. So recently they had a celebration.

That entity had a celebration and my wife and I were there and it's funny that many people came over to me and they said we remember the hard work you put into it to getting it started. Nobody here recognizes, nobody here acknowledges, but we do. We appreciate it, thank you. And I told my wife. My wife came to me. She says how do you feel being here at this event? I said I actually feel great.

It's taken some time but I feel great. I'll tell you why. I said I feel great because our job is only for Hashem to be happy with what we do. I don't care about what people think. If Hashem is happy, then I know I did my job right. But if people don't recognize, so they don't recognize who cares? We're doing it for people. We're doing it for people to say, oh well, we'll be good job. No, we're doing it so that Hashem says we come up to heaven.

Hopefully he'll say you know, that entire project, all the good things that they've ever done, is all because of you, because you put in that hard work, because you put in that effort. They robbed it from you. Great. Now you get it for free. Now it's interest free. You don't have to worry about it, you don't have to fundraise for it, you don't have to take care of anything. They're doing the work for you. Think of them, support them, because imagine if you come to heaven and they have this whole palace built and you're like what's this palace? They're like oh, that's the project you started that they stole from you. Yeah, that's all you. You get the credit for that. Imagine, tell my wife I said it maybe pinches a little bit, but you know what?

Let's look at the big picture. The big picture is Hashem happy? And if Hashem is happy, we have nothing in the world to feel bad about. We have nothing in the world. So the neighbors don't acknowledge big deal. No, nobody knows. Nobody knows all the hard work. That it's fine. Nobody needs to know. We don't do it for everybody else. We do it for the right reason. We do it for the right reason. We have nothing to worry about. So you had a question. It's a great question. How do we know if Hashem is happy with me? How do I know? So we have to communicate with Hashem and talk to Hashem and see, look out for the kiss from Hashem. Hashem communicates with us all the time and if you think he doesn't, you're not listening.

I was in Israel and I spent 10 days with my rabbi on a special, exclusive trip. It was such a special week that we spent with him and right when he started he said you know, many people have this question of like how do I know there's a God? I can't see him. He says you can't see God. Who can't see God? God is everywhere. He's talking to you every single day. How can you not see God? God is everywhere. So we need to talk to God and that's exactly the idea. We open up our prayer book every day and we talk to Hashem. I will tell you, just two weeks ago, I had a very intense conversation with God. In my prayers I was talking to Hashem and saying Hashem, no, no, this is not we got to talk about this. Okay, and we're having this conversation and I'm like Hashem, you got to show me the light here. I'm dealing with an issue. I need you to show me a sign and if I tell you that, like a lightning bolt, hashem showed me that sign.

Hashem talks to us all the time. We have to make ourselves a vessel worthy of hearing that message. But Hashem talks to us and Hashem communicates. And you know what you see success in the things that you do, that Hashem smiling at you and saying I like what you're doing. Now, a person needs to make sure that he's doing the right thing, because there are powers in this world there's the powers of good and there's the powers of evil, and sometimes the powers of evil have the ability to succeed your way as well, so that you continue doing.

For example, if someone goes to the casinos and makes all this money so that he can give it to charity, that's not kosher money. The Torah says not to do it. The Torah says not to earn money like that. So you're doing all of this, acts of kindness. You're giving money to your synagogue, you're giving money to your shul, right to your school, to all of those institutions. That's not clean money. That's the dark side taking power over our Torah institutions, perhaps to be so careful about it that it should be clean and not allow it to have any hint of something which is impure.

But Hashem communicates with us in very, very clear language. You just have to be ready to hear it. I'll give you an example. My daughter and I used to drive the skies to teach in her school, and we used to drive every morning when I would take her to school, and being on time or not being on time was dependent on the lights. If the lights all turned green at the right time, we would make it on time for school. If not, we'd be a minute or two late. But then if you're late, it counts on your score, okay. So I once said to her why don't you, da'van, talk to Hashem and ask him to give you the green lights? So she did, and every light turned green.

Now a person can say, well, that's just a coincidence. Well, if you want to live in a world of oblivion, that's fine. If you want to live in a world where Hashem is communicating with you, you can see the answers Now. The answer is not always going to be a green light. The answer is going to be a red light, but Hashem is still communicating and is communicating very clearly with us. We just have to be receptacles that are capable of absorbing those messages. All right, my dear friends, have a terrific evening. Thank you so much.

56:51 - Intro (Announcement)
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